James Cameron will begin principal photography on Avatar 2 next Monday, September 25th, as was confirmed at the special Terminator event that was held in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, September 19th. Back in June, Cameron's longtime coproducer and Lightstorm Entertainment head Jon Landau said that filming on the Avatar sequels (all four of them, back-to-back) would indeed begin in the last week of September of this year. The latest update on the project confirms that it is currently moving along right on-schedule, for the time being.
The original Avatar was, of course, a game-changing success for the industry in 2009, going on to gross $2.79 billion worldwide in theaters, net three Academy Awards, and usher in a wave of tentpoles that were either filmed natively in 3D or converted to the format in post-production. Much has changed in the movie landscape since then (the 3D craze has died down, comic book cinematic universes and the Star Wars franchise currently dominate the box office on an annual basis), but the same holds true for Cameron's plans for the Avatar franchise. The theme park land Pandora: The World of Avatar is now up and running at Walt Disney World in Florida, while Cameron's original idea to film two Avatar sequels back-to-back has now expanded to filming four Avatar sequels back-to-back.
Given the sheer number of times that filming on Avatar 2 (and its sequels) has already been delayed, there was legitimate reason to wonder if Cameron would be able to make his previously-set September start date this time around, even now that the Avatar sequels have official release dates set in stone. While attending said special Terminator event, during which Cameron also revealed that Linda Hamilton is returning to play Sarah Connor in the Terminator franchise's upcoming sixth installment, THR's Borys Kit was able to confirm that filming on Avatar 2 will begin as previously-announced, next Monday (at the time of writing this).
Cameron and his Avatar sequels cast - which includes returning players Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Zoe Saldana (Neytiri), Sigourney Weaver (Grace Augustine) and Stephen Lang (Miles Quaritch) along with franchise newcomers like Oona Chaplin (Taboo) and Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead) - have already begun running through the motions on the films' "virtual" sets, ahead of the start of filming. Since virtually all of the Pandora scenery in these sequels will be brought to life through digital imagery crafted by WETA Digital, Cameron has been taking extra time to get a feel for how to light and position his cast on-set, before rolling camera.
This further goes to show just how meticulous Cameron is as a filmmaker, from both a technical perspective and a storytelling one - having spent the last several years fine-tuning the Avatar sequels' scripts with a team of four other screenwriters (including, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show creator Josh Friedman). It remains to be seen if even Cameron can fulfill as ambitious a goal as the one that he has set for himself here, but in the meantime everyone else can now take comfort in knowing that they no longer have to keep on wondering if these Avatar sequels are ever actually going to go into full-blown production.
- Avatar 2 (2021) release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Avatar 3 (2023) release date: Dec 22, 2023
- Avatar 4 (2025) release date: Dec 19, 2025
- Avatar 5 (2027) release date: Dec 17, 2027